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More companies pull out of MWC as authorities insist fair will be held

Intel, Facebook and Cisco among those withdrawing from event due to coronavirus

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11 February 2020 08:11 PM

by

ACN|Barcelona

Companies have continued pulling out of the Mobile World Congress on Monday and Tuesday due to concerns related to the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Facebook, Cisco and McAfee announced they too would be withdrawing from the trade fair, joining the likes of Intel, Sony, LG, Amazon and Ericsson, along with the first three Chinese companies: Umidigi, Ulefone and Vivo.

So far, over a dozen companies related to the mobile industry have already pulled out, also including Gigaset (Germany), Nvidia (the US) and NTT Docomo (Japan).

Meanwhile, on Monday the Catalan digital minister Jordi Puigneró insisted that the fair will take place "as usual."

"No reasons" to cancel MWC

According to him, "there are no reasons" to fear a coronavirus outbreak in Catalonia or to cancel the event, despite growing fears that this could indeed happen.

"In Catalonia there are no coronavirus cases. The government will work so that the Mobile World Congress takes place as usual," he added.

On Friday, the head of epidemiology at Hospital Clínic in Barcelona, Doctor Antoni Trilla, also ruled out the possibility of a health problem related to coronavirus in Catalonia.

"There is nothing more contagious than fear. People can be afraid, but fear needs to be rational and we need to see what the situation is at home, where coronavirus [infections] are not very probable," the doctor argued.

Organizers and telecomms to meet

The organizers of the Mobile World Congress will have a meeting on Friday in the wake of more and more big names pulling out of the event due to the coronavirus. 

The GSMA board had already scheduled a regular meeting with key operators, but the lack of participation of such significant companies in the mobile industry will now make for an important discussion point. 

Four of the largest telecommunications firms in Spain will also be present at the meeting; Vodafone, Telefónica, Orange, and Deutsche Telekom.

Orange and Samsung have confirmed to Catalan News that they are currently still planning to participate in the congress.

Telefonica avoided commenting on the situation regarding uncertainties, while Chinese tech giant Xiaomi confirmed that it will still be at the trade show.

SEAT, one of the biggest companies in Catalonia, has told Catalan News that "there is currently no change" and they will be at MWC 2020, where they plan to present their e-scooter.

Catalan government spokesperson Meritxell Budó insisted in a press conference on Tuesday that, for the time being at least, they are not contemplating cancelling the event. 

Budó went on to say that explain that no decision is in the hands of the government either, as the congress is run by a private entity, and that they are “not in the scenario” of the possibility of the event being changed to another date.

Despite these doubts, workers are still continuing with the construction of booths and other outdoor structures in preparation for the event.

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  • Mobile World Congress 2019 attendees looking at stands (by Mariona Puig)

  • Mobile World Congress 2019 attendees looking at stands (by Mariona Puig)

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